Even though the more I’ve researched about the things that could go wrong with advancing robots, as unlikely the dystopic future we envision in sci-fi is to come to fruition; the thread of fearing the inhuman persists. Perhaps it is an extension of humans needing to apply the ‘us’ and ‘them’ hostility to anything that doesn’t belong in their belief system, or the fact that immortal machines, wearing our faces and speaking our words, only reminds us of our own mortality (MacDorman 2005).
For Cybercultures, I have been generating a podcast series that revolves around an exploration of case studies into robots in films and television; and how they exemplify our fear of what robots will become. I aimed with this artefact, to use these robot characters in media to showcase key concepts and revelations I came to during my research. We have a strong fascination with robots that borders on paranoia, we are sprinting head first into the technology to make them as sophisticated as possible to better our lives, but imagine the worst case scenario of the future we are heading to. Robots as the “Big Bad” is an easy trope to buy into, as it so easily plays on what we are already thinking.
Films and TV shows have been a great way for us to pose an idea or notion of the future, or even a parallel present, though they might not always be scientifically accurate or possible, they do still have their role in the future of robots we are heading towards. These ideas and notions will shape what robots in our society will actually be like, and also educate us in how we feel about them. Why do we imagine human replacements like synths, is it because we seek to rid ourselves of human imperfections? Why do we think robots will take all our jobs, because they can do them more efficiently?
All these fictional depictions feed into our apprehension of giving robots artificial intelligence or greater autonomy in their decision making processes. When you compare most depictions of robots-and though not technically robots and under my purview, anything inhuman but still classifiable within the Uncanny Valley- most are depicted as malice and anti-humans. When, as I learnt through my research, real life robots have really done very little to warrant this fictional hatred. Just as I’m sure, people once feared radios or televisions, we will eventually adjust to a changing reality and the role technologies have within it. I plan to do an entire podcast devoted to Uncanny Valley, as it was a very interesting contribution to why we fear robots, most likely through examining the Synths of Humans (2015), a remake of Being Human (2012).
I have plotted to make 10 podcasts all together, each one I focus on a particular concept I have picked from fear of robots, and then applying them to a robot in film or tv to further draw on the topic. My second podcast, will explore the rebelling creators face from their creations, what will really classify as human in these future worlds when something so sophisticated as a Replicant can be just as human as its maker, if not more for understanding the fragility and treasure of existence and wanting more time.
MacDorman, K 2005 ‘Androids as an Experimental Apparatus: Why is there an Uncanny Valley and Can We Exploit It?’